The dangers of underage drinking parties - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

The dangers of underage drinking parties

SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

It's a hot topic in Scott County - underage drinking parties.

People ask what can be done to curb the problem after sheriff's deputies' broke up a big underage drinking party last weekend in Scott County.

"I guess they just think you gotta do it to be cool," said Jonathan Williams, a Scott City graduate.  "If you aren't drinking you aren't cool."

How do you reach high school kids when it comes to underage drinking?  Recent graduates admit it's a problem without an easy solution.

"It's a fashion trend, they think it's cool it's like getting pregnant," said Ashley Valentine, a Chaffee graduate.  "You see it on TV you think it's cool."

As we looked into the problem, we learned teens don't only think it's cool but also okay.  Why? Well, one young man believes it's because his younger friends regularly get served.  Its nights out with dangerous consequences.

"Two of my buddies a few nights ago rolled-over a jeep," said Williams. "A bar let ‘em drink and they got drunk."

Meanwhile last weekend, Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter says deputies corralled at least 60 teens on a property near Scott City.  And more made a run for it.  Walter says the property owner was sound asleep when deputies woke up him to let him know what was going on.

"The department decided to contact the parents and had parents pick them up," said Sheriff Walter.

No one was charged this time, but Sheriff Walter says he's taking a stand.

"If we have advance warning of a party we have a van we'll load them up and process ‘em," Walter said. If we can prove them, we will arrest the provider and bring them to jail."

Walter says he'd like to see parents educate their kids on the dangers of drinking at home.

"The adults are supposed to be responsible they don't need to be friends the kids have enough friends the parents need to be parents," said Walter.  "Some parents don't see it as a problem.  They say if they have it at their homes it's controlled - it's still illegal."

"I know a lot of parents still let kids drink inside the house," said Walter.

For people in Scott County, the issue is a tough one where parents say they just want to find the best way to protect their children.  For authorities they want to stress the lifelong consequences one night can bring.

And for former students, they say many parents need a wakeup call.

"Do you think parents know what kids are doing? No. Most of them are still in the dark about it," said Valentine.

Sheriff Walter says they are working to partner with Mission Missouri and SADD programs in Sikeston.  Soon kids will be educating other kids in Scott County schools to stress the dangers of alcohol.

Meanwhile, schools continue to work stressing to students everything they could lose, from their life to high school eligibility in academics and in sports.

The Scott County Prosecutor's office released the following statement after receiving a number of inquiries from parents, teachers, and area law enforcement officers regarding an underage alcohol party that occurred on March 16, 2012 outside Scott City, Missouri. Chief Juvenile officer Bill Lawson also inquired if the office had any information regarding juveniles at the party.

This office has the following information:

1. Three Scott County Deputies, a Scott City Police officer, and a Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper responded to a party a bit off of Roth Drive just South of Scott City.

2. Approximately 60 individuals were at this party.

3. High School students from Scott City, Notre Dame, Delta, Chaffee, and Oran attended the party.

4. Approximately 30 of the individuals at the party admitted to possession of alcohol and had their licenses or identification (ID) cards seized by deputies.

5. All individuals at the party were allowed to leave except for two who were arrested for pending warrants.

6. Some of the individuals were area athletes who admitted possession of alcohol.

7. A meeting with the individuals and their parents occurred on March 18, 2012 in Benton, Missouri where licenses and ID cards were returned by the Sheriff.

8. Some of the individual's or their parents have reported that the Sheriff indicated the students may be charged with possession of alcohol in the future if they fail to obey the law as "unofficial probation".

9. Student athletes who have a potential future criminal charge may not be eligible to compete in high school sports. See, Missouri State High School Activities Association Rule 2.2.2.

10. A student athlete must immediately report any contact with law enforcement immediately to their schools. Failure to do so by the student can result in forfeiture of games and affect that individual's future eligibility to compete.

11. Scott County Sheriff's department has provided no information as to the investigation of the individuals who were at the party to either the prosecutor's office or the juvenile office. By law, no criminal or juvenile actions can be taken until this information is provided by the Sheriff's office.

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